Skip to main content

Full text of "Insects liable to dissemination in shipments of sugar cane"

See other formats

/- s> 

■ 1,1 . i .7 \\>\Z. 



L O. HOWARD. Knlomologul *nd Uu^ o< Bmr.u. 





607W 12 



L. 0. Howard, Entomologist and t hief of Bureau. 

C. L. Marlatt, Entomologist and Acting Chief in Absence of Chief . 

R. S. Clifton, Executive Assistant. 

W. F. Taptet, Chief Clerk. 

F. H. Chittenden, in charge of truck crop and stored product insect investigations. 

A. D. Hopkins, in charge of forest insect investigations. 

W. D. Hunter, in charge of southern field crop insect investigatic 

F. M. Webster, in charge of cereal and forage insect i7ivestigatio>>s. 

A. L. Quaintance, i?i charge of deciduous fruit insect it — ligations. 
E. F. Phillips, in charge of bee culture. 

D. M. Rogers, in charge of preventing spreadof moths, field work. 
Rolla P. Currie, in charge of editorial work. 
Mabel Colcord, in charge of library . 

Southern Field Crop Insect Investigations. 

W. D. Hunter, in charge. 

W. D. Pierce, .1 D. Mitchell, G. D. Smith. E. A. McGregor, Harry Pixels. 

B. R. Coad, G. N. Wolcott, W. A. Thomas, R. W. Moreland, C. E. Hester. 
engaged in cotton-boll weevil investigations. 

A. C. Morgan. G. A Runner, S. E. Crumb, D. C. Parhak, <«guged in tobacco 

insect investigation 
F. C. Bishopp. A. H. Jennings, H. P. Wood. W. V. King, < ngagedin tick investigations. 
T. E. Hoi.i.oway. E R. Barber, engaged in sugar-ca nvestigations. 

J. L. Webb, engaged in ria insect investigations 

R. A. ('ooi.EY, D. L. Van Dine, A. F. Conradi, (. . C. Krumbhaar, collaborators. 

Circular Na 165. band Di ■ II 

Limed States Department of Agriculture, 


L. O. HOWARD, Eatomologiat and Chief of Bureau. 



By T E Hollo* w, 



T e danger <>f introducing injurious insects into the United States 

i! rough the importation of promising varieties of sugar cane is so 

and so often overlooked thai a word of warning seems t" be 

However desirable it may be to introduce new varieties 

of cane, the fact that injurious insects will probably be disseminated 

at the Bame lame should be given due consideration. There is also a 

ri-k. though not mi great, in transporting cane from one place to 

another in the United States, as is often done for grinding or planting 

purposes. All the BUgar-cane insects in this country seem to be of 

only local distribution, bo thai any injurious insect may easily ho 

Bpread over a Larger area by shipments of cane. Sugar cane intended 

prinding is probably tu>1 bo perfect a medium for transporting 

- as is cane which is to he planted, but if the cane for grinding 

i- h ft waiting for some time it is probable that the insects within may 

emerge and infest standing cane near by. An injurious insect may 

in this way obtain a foothold in a new region. 

To avoid the introduction of a new pest with a shipment of cane 
it i> desirable to obtain the cane, if possible, at a point where injurious 
tfl are not known to occur, and to grow the cam* for the first 
year under the inspection of an entomologist. Shipments of sugar 
cane coming into the United State- should be carefully examined at 
the port of entry, but sometimes there are borers within the cane 
which can not be detected unless the -talk< are cut open and conse- 
quently spoiled. Oases which are ordinarily very efficient for fumi- 
gation Beem to be unable to penetrate a stalk of cane, but it may ha 
that dipping the cane in certain solutions will be found to be satis- 
factory. Experiments along these lines are now in progre>-. 



Compared with the knowledge which has been gained of certain 
other insects, little is known concerning the species which troul le 
sugar cane. The reason for this lack of knowledge is that the scien- 
tific study of the various species is a very recent development, and 
the few workers in different parts of the world have not yet had time 
to make the required investigations. But the several species, with 
their respective forms of injury, have Keen differentiated and some 
of their life hal its have been determined, so that more than suffi- 
cient knowledge has Been obtained upon which to base a warning. 
The very fact that the measures for control are in many cases doubt- 
ful makes the warning even more urgent. 

A list of species liahle to dissemination by shipments of sugar 
cane has been compiled from published and unpublished notes which 
are on file at the office of the United States Bureau of Entomology 
at Audubon Park, New Orleans. The various species are considered 
as follows: 


(Cat'nia licus Drury.) 

Of the injurious insects which do not now occur in the United States 
the larger moth borer is perhaps most to be avoided. The injury 
to the cane by this species is even greater than that which is caused 
by the moth borer which we have in this country, and the larger 
species is still more difficult to control. 

Prof. H. A. Ballou, 1 entomologist of the Imperial Department of 
Agriculture for the British West Indies, has published the following 
statement regarding the pest : 

* * * The larva reaches a size of 2£ inches in length and i inch in diameter 
The tunnel is consequently large and the injury to cane very severe. The pupal 
state is passed in the cane or in the soil near the underground portions. The time 
occupied in the life cycle ranges from 12 to 15 weeks. The adult insect is a large 
day-flying moth which in general appearance is very similar to the large butterflies. 

Caslnia Jicus is a native of South America. Its original food plants were species 
of the orchid family and of the family of plants to which the pineapple belong 
(Bromeliaceae). It is distributed over a large portion of the northern part of South 
America and extends northward to Mexico; it has been known in Trinidad for several 
years. In British Guiana it has been a serious cane pest in certain localities for a 
number of years, and in Trinidad it is known to attack sugar cane and bananas. It 
has also been reported, as a cane pest, from Surinam. It is not known at present to 
occur in any of the islands north of Trinidad, and every precaution should be taken 
to prevent its introduction into any of these islands. If cane plants are to be imported 
from any colony or country where this pest occurs, only the tops should be admitted. 
and these should be carefully examined for any signs of the eggs or larvae at the base 
of the leaves. Cane trash should never be imported, on account of the possibility of 

■ Insect I'csts of the Lesser Antilles. By H. A. Ballou, M. Sc. Issued by the Commissioner o( Agri- 
culture. Barbados, HU2. 


Introducing the • •■.".•- \n\ trash accidentall) accompanying imported cam plants 
should be rigorousl) I. urn.. I 

'.-in ..i .-..iiir..l baa jrel been d i moth 

Collecting the moths bj meani ol nets in the hands "i children ha 

results than anj ■ • t r i . -r direct measure "i control that baa been trn-.i F| ling 

elda after i h«- removal "i the crop baa had a ood effect in certain inst 
uia practice could ".>' I"- carried out in ilitiea in the I • mat Antilles. 

i hi u I I \ n BORl 

Nexl m importance come the weevil borers, of which there are 
several species. They are known in Cuba, Porto Rico, Hawaii, the 
British West [ndies, and probably in South America and Mexico. It 
Beems that one or two species maj be recorded as rare in the United 
States. A Qote in the possession of the writer records a weevil as 
having been reared from young shoots of sugar cane which were col- 
lected at Fairvievt Plantation, Berwick, La., on April 28, 1910, by 
Mr. I). L. Van Dine. Mr. Van Dine found the larva- jusl above 
the surface of the ground. Mr. E R. Barber of this office states thai 
lie found pupa- of weevils in the sugar cane at Audubon Park, New 
( hrleans, in 1911. During the early 9ummer in 1912 t he writer found 
weevil borers in the young sugar-cane plant- at Audubon Park and 
at the experiment station at Brownsville, Tex. The weevils found 
at Brownsville were in the Larval stage in dying plants of stubble 
cane, below the surface of the ground and near the poinl where the 
young shoot left the old stubble, in plant cane at Audubon Park 
the weevil larva were also found below the surface, and near the 
point where the young plum joined the seed cane. The larvae were 
from one-eighth to one fourth of an inch in length. Sometimes a 
borer was found in the middle of the stem, while in other cases the 
borers were near one side of the stem. The injury to the plant i- 
like the "dead heart " caused by our moth borer. It seems probable 
that the moth borer is blamed for some of the injury caused by the 

Very likely these horer^ have been introduced in shipment- <>i 

BUgar cane from the Tropics. They are -mall and their work is 
hard to find, so that they might easily have escaped the eye of the 
average person. So few of the weevils have been found up to date 
that there may he no occasion for alarm, while on the other hand 
they may increase in numbers so a- to become a serious pest. 

tiik raooHon 

Probably the greatesl damage from froghoppers or spittle ins 

i- suffered by the cane planter- of the Island of Trinidad, near the 
coasl of Venezuela. Froghoppers suck the juice from the cane 
plants. Remaining in one place on the plant the} surround them- 
selves with a coating of white froth, and because of this habit the 
popular name of spittle insects has been given to them. They are 


small, winged creatures, and leap readily when disturbed. The 
froghoppers breed in cane fields which are damp and grassy. A 
good method of control is to keep the cane fields free from rank weeds 
and tall grass. A species of froghopper was found last summer on 
cane and grass near New Orleans by Mr. Gilbert E. Bodkin, Govern- 
ment economic biologist of British Guiana, who examined some cane 
fields in company with the writer. Specimens of these insects were 
sent to Dr. F. W. I rich , entomologist of Trinidad, who states that 
the species is not the same as the one which occurs in his vicinity. 
Dr. 1 rich writes as follows: 

I would strongly advise you to make an effort to eradicate this insect from the grass 
surrounding cane fields, for if they get established in sugar canes there is no knowing 
what may happen. Our froghopper trouble originated in grass. 


Apparently we have several leafhoppers in this country, but they 
do not seem to be injurious, in Hawaii, however, there is a de- 
structive leafhopper (Perkinsiella saccharicida Kirkaldy) which was 
introduced from Queensland, Australia. The manner of introduction 
and dispersion is described in an interesting way by Mr. D. L. Van 
Dine x in the following words: 

The main factor in the distribution of the pest is the habit of the female of depositing 
her eggs beneath the epidermis of the internodes of the cane stock. It seems probable 
that the pest was introduced into the islands and to a great extent distributed over 
the cane districts in seed cane. In local distribution other factors present themselves. 
The leafhopper is an insect readily attracted by light at night, as its presence about 
lamps in the factories and homes on the plantations testifies. Passengers and steam, 
ship officers of the interisland steamers have frequently stated to the writer on inquiry 
that in many instances, especially at night, great numbers of the insects have come 
aboard in certain ports or when offshore from certain plantation districts. These 
adults have undoubtedly traveled in this manner from one locality to another, so 
that an uninfested district might easily have become infested while stopping at or 
passing by an infested locality. Railway trains have been equally active in the 
spread of the insect on land. 

Another mode of distribution during the general outbreak of 1903, under conditions 
of heavy infestation, was the migration of the pest from one locality to another during 
the daytime. These migrations were observed by many of the planters. The man- 
ager of one plantation in the Hamakua district of the island of Hawaii stated to the 
writer that in the early evening of April 2<>, 1903. the atmosphere was ''thick witli 
hoppers" for a distance of 2 miles and that the "hoppers" were traveling with the 
prevailing wind, about southwest. Similar migrations, described by- the observers 
as "clouds," were mentioned by other managers. 

The characteristic injury of this leafhooper is also noted by Mr. 
Van Dine: 2 

The presence of the pest on the plantations was noticed first by the appearance of 
a sooty black covering on the lower leaves of the cane plant. This black covering 
became known as smut. It is a fungous growth and finds a medium for development 
in the transparent, sticky fluid secreted by the leafhoppers during their feeding om 
the plant. This secretion is commonly known as honeydew. 

1 The Sugar-Cane Insects of Uawaii. By D. L. Van Dine. Bui. 93, Bureau of Entomology, 0. S. 
Department of Agriculture. Washington, 1911. 

2 Previous reference. 

IN8E( i- IN siillWIKN is ol BUCUB cam.. D 

ill.- black -m 1 1 r or fungotu growth in the honeyden reuetii t the leafhopper and 

aha red diacolomtion about t li« • opening! to the eggcbunben in the midribe of the 
the in"-' pronounced symptonu of the work (if the leafhoppei 

When one considers thai this peel was inadvertently transported 
from Australia to Hawaii, there is do reason to Buppose that it could 
not l>e brought from Hawaii to the United States, more especially 
after the opening ol the Panama ( anal. 

nil pis K mi Mini i.. 

1 Ml.) 

The pink mealybug {Pwudococciu sacckari Ckll.) is uol known to 
occur in the United States, though we hare an allied species. It is 
a soft creature which infests the cane in a aimilai manner to the 
form which occurs in tlu> United States, vt bich is considered in another 
place in this publication. It occurs in Cuba, Porto Rico, South 
America, and probably elsewhere. We hai e received some specimens 
from Costa Rica. 

no: u i BT-INDl vs IfOl I ( RI( hi l. 

(8eapUrisau didactyltu 1 

The Weal Indian mole cricket (Scapteriscus didactyltu Latr.) is 

recorded from the West Indies generally and from South America, 
but it is especially destructive in Porto Rico, where "il abounds 
over all the island and attacks practically all cultivated plants." 1 
This insect burrows in the >oil and feeds on the cane and other 
plants. lt> peculiar life history make- it very difficult to control. 

The omnivorous habit of the mole cricket of Porto Rico indicates 
that the sugar planter may not he the only one who will lose by the 
careless introduction of sugar cane. It seems possible, too, that 
insects not known to attack SUgSJ cane but which attack other plants 
may be transferred from place to place in shipments of cane. 


There are many other insects of lesser importance that attack 
sugar cane in the Tropics, but it will hardly be accessary to consider 
them here except to State that an insect which i- of little harm in 
one country may become surprisingly injur, oils if brought to another 
country. The reason for this is that in it- Dative place a Bpecies 
Usually has natural enemies of one kind or another which check its 
progress, while if the injurious specie- becomes established in a new 
home its enemies are seldom introduced with it and the harmful 
insect reaches its maximum development. Insects that are con- 
sidered of little consequence by our tropica] friend- may become of 
almost tragic importance to us if we allow them to enter our borders. 

' Seoon.l Annul Report of tb I the Sugar Prodi f Porto Rico) 

lor the Year 19111912. Report ol the KntomoloiiiM by D. I. Vi» Mm i P H . 1912. 



(Diatrxa saccharalu Fab.) 

The sugar-cane moth borer is easily the most important of the 
insects injurious to sugar cane in the United States. Like other 
sugar-cane insects it was probably introduced from the Tropics, 
though the time of this introduction is very uncertain. 1 The nature 
of injury is only too familiar to most planters. The adult, a small 
moth, deposits its eggs in clusters on the leaves of the cane plants. 
These eggs hatch, and the small larvae, or borers, which emerge begin 
to gnaw their way into the stalk. The injury in the early spring is 
known as "dead heart," and consists of the decaying of the tender 
shoot of the young plant. This is caused by the inner tissues being 
severed by the borer near the surface of the ground. Later in the 
season the borer is found in the stalks of cane, in wliich it gnaws 
irregular tunnels. 

Mr. T. C. Barber 2 has made an investigation of the actual loss 
directly due to the moth borer, and he summarizes his results in these 
words : 

The sugar-cane borer damages cane in the field by destroying a considerable per- 
centage of the eyes, thus reducing the stand of plant cane; by stunting the growth of 
the cane, owing to the physical injury of the stem; by admitting fungous djseaaee 
through the wounds in the stem, and is the main cause of injury by the wind, owing 
to the weakening of the stalk due to the tunnels and burrows. These classes of injury 
have been appreciated by planters. It now develops that there is another and very 
important class of injury which has been overlooked. This is the reduction of both 
the quantity and cpiality of the juice, which is dealt with specially in this circular 
It becomes evident, that both the planters and the manufacturers are vitally in ten •- 
in the work of the sugar-cane borer. 

The distribution of the moth borer seems to be limited, in a general 
way, to the southern half of Louisiana and the lower Rio Grande 
Valley in Texas. The infestation is not uniform, but is affected by 
local conditions. Our notes indicate that the moth borer is not to 
be found at Sugarland and Victoria, Tex.; at Biloxi and Hattiesburg, 
Miss.; nor at Montgomery and Selma, -Via. This matter should be 
further investigated, however, as we have not had the opportunity 
to examine very many fields at any of the places mentioned. Where 
the moth borer is not known to occur the planters should be very 
careful in bringing in shipments of cane from other communities. 

' Cane borer (Dia'rxa saccharalis). Report of investigations by W. C. Stubbs, director, and H. A. M ir- 
gan, entomologist. Bulletin of the Agricultural Experiment Station, second series, No. 70. Baton 
Rouge, La., 1902. 

2 Damage to Sugar Cane in Louisiana by the Sugar Cane Borer. By T. C. Barber. Circular 139, Bureau 
of Entomology, U. S. Department of Agriculture. Washington, 1911. 



■ Miutk.) 

Another inseel which has entered the United States From the 
Tropics is the mealybug, or ''pou-a-pouche," as it is often called in 
Li uisiana. We have here called it the graj mealybug to distinguish 
it from the pink one which Is considered under "Foreign Insects." 
Mr. J. B. ( isirrrt t ' nun If a study of the mealybug some pears ago, and 
ire quote lu^ statement concerning it-- history in Louisiana: 

Jnsi how long the sugar- cane mealybug has been in Louisiana and from whence it 
came is problematical. Information received from Borne of the oldest cane plant 
in southern Louisiana indicates that the inseel was imported on seat 1 cane about 25 
Tears ago and became established on some "i the plantations Dear the mouth of the 
Mississippi [liver. Prom this point it has worked its way north to the « 1 i.-t rict around 
New Orleans Pr. Win. r Stubbs, formerly director "t the Louisiana [Experiment 
Stations, states thai the mealybug made its Grel app the ~- > Bzperiment 

Station at Audubon l'.irk. New Orleans, in 1891. It did i » » • • become established at 
the station from this introduction for the reason that all infested i anes were taken up 
and burned Several years later a second introduction to the Sugar Experiment 

. Ion plats occurred. Because of 1 the great value of the varieties infested, it became 
more practical to attempt control and exercise precautions in the distribution of seed 
cane than to take the rigid measures of eradication. 'I -ures would have 

meant the destruction of the varieties in practically all of the Station plats will, the 

reintroduction from outside almost a certainty, This would have been an irreparable 
to the station and of no protection to the planter since the pest i- well established 
iii the surrounding plantations. 

The mealybug maj be recognized <>n the cane plant by the mealy 
or floury secretion by which it is surrounded. The inseel attaches 
itself to the stalk of cane and sucks the juice. It- greatesi injury is 
in killing the buds of windrowed or other cane, causing a low percent- 
age o!" germination the following year. It is limited to a certain 
area in Louisiana, especially to plantations along the Mississippi 
River. The writer found an infestation of the mealybug at the 
experiment station at Brownsville, Tex., in Qctober, 1912, and he 
advised those in charge to take every means of eradicating the pest. 

THF Bl G MM Ufl A III I lll> 

An aphidid or plant louse was found this year (1912) by the writer 
at a number of places in southern Louisiana and near Barhngen, 

Tex. It appears to he a species new to science as well as to most 
suo;ar planters. Its importance i> doubtful, as we have practically 

no information about it. 

\ l'rvlnnm.iry Report on Tho BagarCana Mealy-ling. By J. n. Qamtt Agrtonltnnl Experiment 
Mat ion ol the Louisiana State t oivercitj and v. ami " oaiou Rouge, La., 1910. 



We have considered the weevil borers as foreign insects, but as 
they have already been found in the United States they may sooner 
or later force us to give them a place among our own species. 

There are some injurious beetles, and one species seems to be con- 
fined to a certain part of Louisiana. During tliis year no definite 
records have been obtained regarding them. 

Still other insects which are more or less injurious to sugar cane 
occur in this country, but they do not deserve mention in this paper. 
There may be still others of which we have no knowledge, for exten- 
sive field examinations have been made only during this year. The 
information which has been obtained, however, indicates the need 
for further investigations. 


The fact that the principal insects injurious to sugar cane in the 
United States seem to have been, inadvertently introduced from the 
Tropics indicates the necessity for more careful inspection of ship- 
ments of sugar cane entering this country. Indeed, most extraordi- 
nary efforts would be justified to prevent the introduction of other 
pests. As to the insects which we now have, it is evident that they 
are found only in certain places and that they are more abundant in 
some places than in others. The fullest information is needed, there- 
fore, regarding their present occurrence. Otherwise', the planter, in 
seeking to benefit himself by bringing in a shipment of seed cane from 
some outside point, may really occasion loss to himself and his 
neighbors. The pest which has once become established presents a 
problem to the planter and the entomologist, and a period of many 
years may be too short a time to solve some of the problems with 
which we already have to deal. But if means are provided for keep- 
ing out the injurious insects altogether the work will be correspond- 
ingly simplified and the planters and manufacturers may be saved 
manv thousands of dollars. 

ADDITIONAL COPIES of this publication 
A may be procured from the Superintend- 
ent of Documents, Government Printing 
Office, Washington, D. C , at 5 cents per copy 


3 1262 09216 5926